World Anti-Counterfeiting Day
FICCI’s Committee Against Smuggling and Counterfeiting Activities Destroying the Economy (CASCADE) organised a webinar on ‘Consumer Protection in the COVID Age’ on the occasion of World Anti-Counterfeiting Day on 8th June 2021. This day enables national and international organizations involved in the fight against counterfeit products to increase consumer awareness of the risks and costs associated with buying fakes, and to encourage consumers to better understand the seriousness of the problem.
Mr Anil Rajput, Chairman, FICCI CASCADE welcomed all the participants and stated, “the Covid-19 virus and illicit trade have a lot in common, both cause immense economic, social and individual distress.” Applauding the enforcement officers who have relentlessly pursued the smugglers and counterfeiters; and seized many contraband and fake products during the current crisis, Mr Rajput urged them to keep up the good work which would ensure that the perpetrators of crime did not see the covid-19 situation as a reason to exploit vulnerable consumers and organizations.
Mr Hem Kumar Pande, Former Secretary, Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, GoI chaired the session and observed that consumer awareness has become an important part of the anti-counterfeiting strategy in developed economies. On the flipside, in developing countries, it is still a major challenge. “The ‘Jaago Grahak Jaago’ campaign of the Indian Government has received reasonable success with urban consumers looking out for the safety and genuineness of the product. But we still have a long way to go to inculcate and develop a sense of responsibility amongst the rural consumer base”, he added.
Mr Shibesh Singh, Additional Commissioner (Crime), Delhi Police said, “there has been a significant rise of frauds against public during the second wave of the coronavirus”. During the recent wave of the pandemic, he said, the Delhi police were able to block almost 550 fraud bank accounts, seized more than 1.25 crore rupees, and suspended almost 1500 sim cards. Highlighting the problem of black marketing and selling of counterfeit, fake, spurious covid cure products, Mr Singh said, “with the help of local enforcement agencies, Delhi police arrested more than 300 black marketeers and broke the backbone of COVID related crime syndicate”.
Emphasizing the unwavering efforts of the DRI officers during the unprecedented coronavirus crisis, Mr Rajesh Pandey, Principal Additional Director General, Directorate of Revenue Intelligence said, “during the pandemic year, DRI has seized 984 Kgs of gold & illicit cigarette sticks worth more than Rs. 100 crores along with seizures a large amount of heroin, cocaine, hashish, opium, and synthetic drugs.” He added that the Covid 19 pandemic impacted manufacturing and trade, and the gap was filled with counterfeit and smuggled products. Hence, law enforcement and trade & industry must work more closely so that illicit activities can be neutralised to a great extent.
Commemorating this year’s World Anti-Counterfeiting Day, the FICCI CASCADE’s webinar marks a crucial milestone to further discuss how amid the COVID emergency, counterfeiting has changed over the past months, while looking at the anti-illicit efforts that are needed in the coming days. Industry panellists from Amazon, Johnson and Johnson and Underwriters Laboratories agreed that the ultimate goal should be to identify and sever illicit products and their sellers before they have a chance to create a negative experience for our consumers. Amazon, for example, have blocked 10 billion suspected sellers and seized more than 2 million products.
Moreover, it was agreed that a co-ordinated action is the need of the hour as no single company or sector can fight counterfeiting alone. While legitimate manufacturers hold the information necessary to distinguish their products from the fakes in the market, E-commerce platforms have information about the third-party sellers dealing in fake products. Likewise, search providers have a broad view of how actors can move across different platforms, while payment providers are a critical part in tracing illicit gains to counterfeiters and cutting off their access. Input from each of these sources is necessary to allow both the government and private sector to have full insight into the paths of counterfeit and smuggled goods; and to track those who are responsible.
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